Based on a few recent conversations with clients, it occurred to me that people define the concept of SELF-AWARENESS in different ways.
Let me share some examples…
“Ashley” was an amazing leader who I had the privilege of coaching over six months. About a month into our program, she revealed to me that recently when she was in a meeting, she suddenly became very SELF-AWARE. For the very first time!!!
“I was aware of my body language, I was aware of my words and I was aware of how other people were perceiving me.”
On another occasion, my client “Betty” had shared that she’d received negative feedback, specifically that she came across as arrogant.
When I asked her to elaborate, she said, “I’m not arrogant. I am very SELF-AWARE.”
What, exactly, is SELF-AWARENESS?
Simply put, SELF-AWARENESS is recognition of the self. As in, recognition of one’s emotions, triggers, reactions, and one’s impact on others.
- Humans are one of only a few species capable of self-awareness.
- Human beings don’t become self-aware until they are toddlers.
- Other species capable of self-awareness are chimpanzees, gorillas, dolphins, and magpies. (Yes, magpies. Which got me thinking, if magpies are self-aware, how about those 🦝 incessant raccoons?)
We know all this because of something called the mirror test, which researchers use to determine whether an animal recognizes itself as a unique entity.
Two Types of Self-Awareness
As human beings, we all have some degree of self-awareness. We also have the capacity for different types of self-awareness.
1️⃣ PRIVATE or INTERNAL self-awareness is about being introspective and reflecting on our internal state. People with a high degree of private self-awareness are conscious of their thoughts, feelings, and their physicality.
2️⃣ PUBLIC or EXTERNAL self-awareness is about being conscious of how we are perceived by others. It’s kind of like the mirror test, but in a social context. This type of self-awareness allows us to successfully interact with each other.
At the top of this email, I shared two conversations I had with clients about their self-awareness. My take on them:
- “Ashley’s” epiphany was becoming aware of her physicality and others’ perceptions of her. She successfully evolved from having low self-awareness to becoming both internally and externally self-aware. (This is what we all want!)
- “Betty” had a reputation of being arrogant, yet declared that she is highly self-aware. My diagnosis is that she may have high internal self-awareness, but low external self-awareness.
Does self-awareness REALLY matter?
In a word: YES!
The META-CONSCIOUSNESS of self-awareness is the key to improving our communication.
Without self-awareness, we risk being disconnected from our own selves, and being perceived in a manner we might not agree with (like “Betty”).
The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to improve your SELF-AWARENESS. Listen to the latest Talk About Talk podcast episode to learn more!
Please forward this email to your friends and colleagues who might be interested in improving their communication skills. THANK YOU!
If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback, please email me anytime. I love hearing from you.
Executive Communication Coach
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